There’s no question about it—bullying kills—and we finally have a case where there might be justice. The jury during a coroner’s inquest in Fayette, Ohio, found that the suicide of a 17-year-old high school student was due to involuntary manslaughter principally caused by the bullying of his manager at Dairy Queen. While this is not a conviction, the manager has been arrested and the case now goes to the judge to determine whether full charges will be filed. As I’ve long advocated, people who bully must be held accountable.
This is a deeply important issue, which is why I dedicated an entire chapter of my book, From Bully to Bull’s-Eye, to “Costs, Liabilities and Deadly Consequences” of bullying. According to a Harvard study, more than 120,000 deaths per year may be attributable to workplace stress. The damage done by bullies to their victims can lead to depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder and suicide. Suicide, which is too often euphemistically called “sudden death” in newspaper death notices to avoid public stigma, should be called what it is. I personally consider suicide brought on bullying to be murder.
Creating psychologically healthy, safe and fair workplaces is imperative to preventing this sort of tragedy, but equally important is being present for anyone who is being bullied. Victims often feel as though they are alone and there is no way out of their pain. For this reason, family, friends and even bystanders play a critical role. If you see someone struggling ask, “How can I help?”
If you are the one who is struggling please reach out to someone you trust. If you don’t have someone, please call one of the excellent organizations below. They will also help friends figure out how to help you. And remember, you’re not alone.
The Trevor Project Lifeline: 866-488-7386
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255